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Journal Articles Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy Year : 2019

Pyrrolomycins Are Potent Natural Protonophores


The escalating burden of antibiotic drug resistance necessitates research into novel classes of antibiotics and their mechanism of action. Pyrrolomycins are a family of potent natural product antibiotics with nanomolar activity against Gram-positive bacteria, yet with an elusive mechanism of action. In this work, we dissect the apparent Gram-positive specific activity of pyrrolomycins and show that Gram-negative bacteria are equally sensitive to pyrrolomycins when drug efflux transporters are removed and that albumin in medium plays a large role in pyrrolomycin activity. The selection of resistant mutants allowed for the characterization and validation of a number of mechanisms of resistance to pyrrolomycins in both Staphylococcus aureus and an Escherichia coli ΔtolC mutant, all of which appear to affect compound penetration rather than being target associated. Imaging of the impact of pyrrolomycin on the E. coli ΔtolC mutant using scanning electron microscopy showed blebbing of the bacterial cell wall often at the site of bacterial division. Using potentiometric probes and an electrophysiological technique with an artificial bilayer lipid membrane, it was demonstrated that pyrrolomycins C and D are very potent membrane-depolarizing agents, an order of magnitude more active than conventional carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenylhydrazone (CCCP), specifically disturbing the proton gradient and uncoupling oxidative phosphorylation via protonophoric action. This work clearly unveils the until-now-elusive mechanism of action of pyrrolomycins and explains their antibiotic activity as well as mechanisms of innate and acquired drug resistance in bacteria.

Dates and versions

hal-03361019 , version 1 (01-10-2021)



Katherine Valderrama, Elizabeth Pradel, Alexander M. Firsov, Hervé Drobecq, Hélène Bauderlique-Le Roy, et al.. Pyrrolomycins Are Potent Natural Protonophores. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 2019, 63 (10), pp.e01450-19. ⟨10.1128/AAC.01450-19⟩. ⟨hal-03361019⟩
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